Interview: Why I Feel Tech Distracted Me From My Natural Goal
Many of us find ourselves drawn to the allure of the tech industry, seeking a path that promises fulfilment and stability. For Nigeria-born data professional Ifeoma Igwe, who first moved to the UK seven years ago to study, this journey led her through unexpected twists and turns.
In a candid interview with POCIT, Ifeoma shared her experiences of entering the tech industry, facing layoffs, and discovering her unique path that blends literature with tech with her text-to-speech app, Easy Edit.
Joining the Tech Industry
Igwe studied Economics and Management as an undergraduate and then continued to do a master’s in Digital Innovation Management.
Throughout her master’s, she launched and ran an e-commerce marketplace for Nigerian fashion brands.
After having roles such as an audit intern and a copywriter, Igwe entered tech in 2022 at Nibble as a growth executive, captivated by the industry’s innovation and potential to improve people’s lives.
“When I joined the startup building an Ai negotiation chat, I was thrilled because, as a member of the growth team, I participated in brainstorming and executing strategies to acquire customers,” she said.
At first, she found it exciting and loved that she could contribute skills that came naturally to her even though she didn’t understand code at this stage.
However, things soon took a turn for the worst.
Setbacks: Layoffs and Rescinded Offers
Ifeoma’s initial enthusiasm was met with a layoff from tech startup Nibble and a rescinded job offer from Rolls-Royce.
After her first layoff, Igwe was told her role as a growth executive was no longer required at the company. By contrast, her colleagues with more technical skills were unaffected by the layoffs.
Taking this as a sign, she decided to develop some of those skills to decrease the chances of layoff happening again.
“My first regret was not entering the industry as a tech talent, so I taught myself to code and landed a job as a data scientist.”
By joining women’s coding communities, Igwe got guidance from peers on where to start and enrolled in self-learning platforms.
She also took courses on Python for data science, machine learning and intermediate SQL, started a technical analysis newsletter, shared insights and recommendations from social media analysis and volunteered at industry events and schools to inform students of careers in data.
“I did a lot of projects, which helped me learn better and learn by doing,” she said.
“For example, I would think up a fun project idea, find the code to build it, and post about it on my LinkedIn.”
Through this, she realized that coding is not just for an elite group with superpowers but that anyone can learn if they’re interested and persistent.
However, her triumph was short-lived as shortly after securing the offer for a role as a data scientist at the R2 factory, the AI startup owned by Rolls Royce, it was rescinded due to economic instability.
Igwe was left to grapple with the disappointment of a revoked offer and regret spending time and money on various self-learning platforms and resources.
Shifting her perspective
After this incident, Igwe underwent a significant shift in her perspective. She shifted her focus to the other skills she was naturally good at, such as literature.
“I put my dreams on hold because I thought a career in this industry would stabilize me well enough to chase them, but I’m glad for the early wake-up call,” she told POCIT.
Thanks to this change in perspective, Igwe began to incorporate tech into things she loved, such as writing her novels. This led to her text-to-speech web application. Unlike traditional text-to-speech apps, Easy Edit could understand Igwe’s Nigerian accent, making it easier for her to edit her work.
“The localized accent could pronounce the names of my characters better than the standard American accent.”
Igwe is currently working on a novel, “Away in Bliss”, that she is self-publishing which highlights the experiences international students face.
By day, she is a graduate researcher at Kantar, a world-leading data, insights and consulting company.
While it isn’t a technical job, Igwe shares that she is surrounded by innovation because of how forward-thinking the company is.
For any graduates wanting to pursue a tech role, Igwe advised them to exhaust free resources before considering the paid ones, join more relevant communities and create experiences for themselves.